“They say you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tapes
But if I talk about God my record won't get played”
- Kanye West (“Jesus Walks”)
Among many other things, Kanye and I have had this erroneous belief in common. Last week I was introduced to the world of Christian music by TobyMac when he flew to the top of the iTunes chart. I am embarrassed to admit that my previous perception of Christian music was mainly limited to what I called “choir music.” TobyMac showed me that a hip hop/pop artist can sing about his beliefs, and there is certainly a ripe audience for that.
And thus my epiphany: not all Christians like the same kind of music.
I think my I.Q. just rose a few points, although I’m not demonstrating that it was very high in the first place (especially since I am Christian).
When I blogged about TobyMac last week, many readers suggested me that if I liked rap I might like Lecrae. I didn’t have long to wait as Lecrae’s album (“Gravity”) was released this week. And guess what? “Gravity” was #2 on iTunes when I looked yesterday (above the new Matchbox Twenty album- take that, Kanye!)
Remember the episode of The Soprano’s where Tony was in the hospital and his gangster roommate had had a friend shoot him in the leg to give him “street cred”? Lecrae doesn’t have to do that; he’s the real deal. He spent his formative years getting in plenty of trouble, including encounters with the police and liberal use of illegal drugs.
At some point, Lecrae gained the maturity to recognize that the path he was on was not a productive one. A combination of a grandmother who had stressed the importance of church and a fortuitous invitation to bible study by a cute girl helped Lecrae turn the corner. Pair that with a love of rap and you have an album like “Gravity.”
I was anxious and curious to hear a true Christian rapper, expecting perhaps “rap lite.” Wrong again. One thing I like about rap is the clever rhyming lyrics, which appeals to my sense of order. Example: “I pen songs for the perishin’ and the parishoners, them hearers and them listeners, the home and the visitors.” (Clever rhyming lyrics: check)
Another thing I really enjoy about many rap songs are “duets” with other artists (do rappers calls them duets? It sounds so Tony Bennett), and indeed Lecrae brings a host of diverse artists to join him in various songs, although I’m not familiar with any of them.
And I admit that I do find it intriguing to listen to rap for a small window into a completely different world than I live in, and rap provides that, as well. I assure you no one is clamoring for a peek into the life of a working suburban mom. (Challenge to Lecrae: rap about Music Mom)
What you won’t find on “Gravity”: lots of swearing and songs about drugs, guns and sex. He is thoughtful and humble. He discusses other artists’ quest for fame and whether that is misplaced on “Confe$$sions.” He and his lady occasionally get on each other’s nerves on “Buttons.” In “Free From It All” there is a discussion about not worrying about the opinions of others. No wonder Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin are fans.
The bottom line is that I really liked this album, and with 17 songs there is a lot of diversity. My favorite songs were “Free From It All,” “Fakin’,” “Lucky Ones” and “Higher.” And not to brag, but I just beat my sister on the Modern Rap category on Song Pop. Yay!
Enjoy the video for “Lord Have Mercy” and enjoy "Gravity"!
Filed under: Album Reviews